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The dialectical environment of the mind: a philosophical foundation for biomimicry in the theories of G.W.F. Hegel and Jean Piaget

Published 2013

Biomimicry is a technological approach to engaging with the natural world which looks to nature as an intellectual source to solve human problems. The current problems of environmental degradation and the challenges of long-term sustainable production have given rise to the practice of biomimicry. This new form of technologically engaging with the world is reflective of a certain relationship between self and object. This new relationship of subject and object, or the cognitive and natural, is, I argue, best understood dialectically. In making this argument, I first reconstruct the work of G.W.F Hegel and Jean Piaget. I begin with Hegel and his theory of cognitive development, which leads directly into his philosophy of nature. Next, I present Piaget's theory of mental development as it plays itself out in the field of psychology and then in biology. Finally, I defend the methodological principles and critique of so-called instrumental rationality or means-ends rationality in subsequent Hegelian critical theory. My project is to provide a philosophical foundation for the technology of biomimicry and show how we can understand the significance of biomimicry through a reconstruction of Hegel's philosophy of nature. This is because there already is contained in his theory a critique of positivism (the Understanding), which will later be called instrumental reason by the Frankfurt school tradition. Indeed, one could even see biomimicry as an advanced stage in Hegel's understanding of the rational development of nature, and our dialectical relationship to it.

Language English
Book contributor Auraria Library
Collection auraria


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